Cross necklace

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Cross necklace made of steel

A cross necklace is any necklace featuring a Christian cross or crucifix.[1]

Crosses are often worn as an indication of commitment to the Christian faith,[2][3][4] and are sometimes received as gifts for rites such as baptism and confirmation.[5][6] Communicants of the Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Churches are expected to wear their baptismal cross necklaces at all times,[7][8] a practice derived from Canon 73 and Canon 82 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council (Synod) of Constantinople.[9]

Some Christians believe that the wearing of a cross offers protection from evil,[7][10][11] while others, Christian and non-Christian, wear cross necklaces as a fashion accessory.[12]

"In the first centuries of the Christian era, the cross was a clandestine symbol used by the persecuted adherents of the new religion."[13] Many Christian bishops of various denominations, such as the Orthodox Church, wear a pectoral cross as a sign of their order.

Most adherents of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church will wear a cross attached to either a chain or a matäb, a silk cord.[14][unreliable source?] The matäb is tied about the neck at the time of baptism, and the recipient is expected to wear the matäb at all times. Women will often affix a cross or other pendant to the matäb, but this is not considered essential.[15]

In some nations, such as the People's Socialist Republic of Albania, an atheist state, the wearing of cross necklaces was historically banned.[16]

Some denominations, like Jehovah's Witnesses, believe wearing a cross is forbidden by commandments against idolatry.[17]

In two highly publicised British cases, nurse Shirley Chaplin and British Airways flight attendant Nadia Eweida were disciplined for wearing cross necklaces at work, in breach of their employment terms. Both took their cases to the European Court of Human Rights;[18] Chaplin's case was dismissed, while Eweida was awarded damages on the grounds that the UK government had failed to weigh her right to religious expression heavily enough.[19] In light of such cases, in 2012 the former archbishop of Canterbury of the Anglican Communion, Lord Carey of Clifton, and then head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, have urged all Christians to wear cross necklaces regularly.[20]



  1. ^ John Renard (1 August 2001). The Handy Religion Answer Book. Visible Ink Press. ISBN 1578591252. Individuals wearing or displaying either a cross or the fish symbol might belong to any of a number of Christian denominations or communities.
  2. ^ Liz James (30 April 2008). Supernaturalism in Christianity: Its Growth and Cure. Mercer University Press. ISBN 9780881460940. Most Christians who have worn crosses have probably not trivialized a core teaching of Jesus about renouncing self-centeredness, figuratively described as carrying one's cross. For them the symbol is perceived not as powerful magic, or as a lovely decoration to impress others, but as a reminder primarily to themselves of their commitment to one who laid down His life in love for friends and enemies.
  3. ^ William E. Phipps (4 May 2010). A Companion to Byzantium. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781405126540. In fact cross-wearers, and those depositing icons and other valuables in the graves of loved ones, probably considered themselves true to Christ and His Cross.
  4. ^ Mark U. Edwards (17 September 2006). Religion on Our Campuses. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 22. ISBN 1403972109. Consider, for example, dress and jewelry. An Orthodox Jewish male student may wear a yarmulke or a Moslem female student a headscarf, and Christian students of both sexes may wear crosses.
  5. ^ Jordan, Anne (5 April 2000). Christianity. Nelson Thornes. ISBN 9780748753208. Most Orthodox Christians wear this cross for the rest of their lives.
  6. ^ On Wearing the Cross. Greek Orthodox Church. 2012. At holy Baptism, every Orthodox Christian receives an image of the Precious Cross to be worn around the neck. From the moment of Baptism until the moment of death, every Orthodox Christian should wear the Cross at every moment.
  7. ^ a b Samaan, Moses (25 August 2010). "Who wears the Cross and when?". Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles, Southern California, and Hawaii. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  8. ^ Konstantopoulos, George D. (18 September 2017). "All Orthodox Christians are Given a Cross Following Their Baptism to Wear for Life". St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  9. ^ Konstantopoulos, George D. (18 September 2017). "All Orthodox Christians are Given a Cross Following Their Baptism to Wear for Life". St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church. Archived from the original on 22 July 2018. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  10. ^ Liz James (30 April 2008). Supernaturalism in Christianity: Its Growth and Cure. Mercer University Press. ISBN 9780881460940. From the fifth century onward, the cross has been widely worn as an amulet, and the novel Dracula treats it as a protection against vampires. Many Christians continue to hang polished miniatures of the cross around their necks.
  11. ^ Michael Symmons Roberts (2011-09-12). "The Cross". British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The belief that the cross can ward off evil and protect the wearer goes back a long way.
  12. ^ Reader, John; Baker, Chris (7 May 2009). Entering the New Theological Space. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 978-0754663393. A cross necklace is a Christian symbol, but it is also common enough in secular style that it may be worn by those for whom it has little or no meaning beyond the cultural or fashionable.
  13. ^ Metropolitan Jewelry, (Sophie McConnell, ed.), Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.), 1991, p. 66 ISBN 9780870996160
  14. ^ The Ethiopian Orthodox Church (2003) [1970]. Aymero W; Joachim M (eds.). "The Sacramental: The cross and the crucifix". The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Addis Ababa: Ethiopian Orthodox mission. Archived from the original on 22 March 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2015 – via Attached to a cord or fine chain [the cross] is worn around the neck of nearly all Christians right from childhood until death.
  15. ^ Siegbert Uhlig (2007). Encyclopædia Aethiopica: He-N. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 9783447056076. The Matäb, an emblem of Christianity in Ethiopia, is a blue (sometimes black) silk cord tied around the neck of a child during the baptism ceremony.… Women may later append various elements on the M., though a simple cord is already considered a fully valuable M. The possible pendants include a cross…. They can be freely combined, none of them being essential.
  16. ^ Tomko, Jozef (28 February 2007). On Missionary Roads. Ignatius Press. p. 452. ISBN 9781586171650. Retrieved 9 April 2014. In 1967, Hoxha proudly declared Albania to be the first completely atheistic state. It was once a chiefly Muslim country with a Catholic minority and small groups of Greek Orthodox in the south. From the onset of communist rule, all religions had to cut their ties with their centers abroad. practically all the priests who survived the initial persecutions were confined in prisons or work camps. Religious orders were abolished, and all religious rituals, including the celebration of the sacraments, were prohibited and punishable by the death penalty for those officiating. The people were not even allowed to have religious necklaces or to wear such things as small crosses.
  17. ^ What Does the Bible Really Teach?. Watch Tower Society. 2005. pp. 51, 201–204.
  18. ^ "Cardinal Keith O'Brien urges Christians to 'proudly' wear cross". British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 7 April 2012. Former nurse Shirley Chaplin, from Exeter, and Nadia Eweida, from Twickenham, who worked with British Airways, are taking their call for all employees to be able to wear a cross at work to the European Court of Human Rights.
  19. ^ "Cross case nurse Shirley Chaplin plans to appeal ruling". BBC News. 2013-01-15. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  20. ^ "Christians urged to wear cross after moves to 'sideline' faith". The Daily Telegraph. 6 April 2012. Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the Scottish Roman Catholic leader, are among those urging Christians to demonstrate their beliefs publicly after a series of cases placing religious freedom in the spotlight.

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